Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN
Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.
Weight loss surgery can be a life-changing experience. While it’s great to see your weight decrease, it isn’t always easy adjusting to the new changes in your body. Bloating is one of the most common issues for those who have undergone WLS. While this issue can be uncomfortable – and uncomfortable for some people to discuss – there are ways to reduce bloating and gas. Let’s look at common bloating culprits after WLS and how to combat them!
1) Carbonated beverages. Ahhh, there’s just nothing like the bubbly satisfaction of a carbonated beverage. Am I right?! But satisfaction may be far from what you feel after you take a sip after WLS. Carbonated drinks like soda and carbonated waters can cause significant bloating and discomfort in that now tiny stomach. There’s just not much room for the bubbles to go anymore. If you are prone to gas buildup, avoid carbonated beverages altogether. If you are not, you may be able to tolerate small amounts of these beverages without experiencing bloating. If you plan to test the waters, wait a few months post-op.
2) Dairy products. Dairy products can cause bloating after weight loss surgery because they contain lactose, a sugar that can be difficult to digest. Lactose intolerance, lactose sensitivity, and milk sensitivities are common post-WLS; if you have a sensitivity before surgery, it may worsen post-op. If this becomes an issue for you, try vegan protein shakes instead.
3) Cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts can be a recipe for bloat and gassiness, not just after WLS but generally. But gas can feel more intense after surgery due to the small size of the stomach. Cruciferous veggies contain a compound called raffinose, which is difficult to digest. When you’re ready to introduce more veggies into your diet post-op, play it safe and cook veggies until soft for easier digestion.
4) Beans and legumes. Beans are an excellent source of protein, complex carbs, and fiber, but after WLS, you may struggle to eat them without developing bloating and gas. Why? Because they contain something called oligosaccharides, a type of carbohydrate that can be difficult to digest for some people. Additionally, beans are often high in fiber, which can also contribute to bloating. But don’t give up too quickly! Considering the nutritional value and benefits of beans and legumes, it’s worth it to eat them as often as you can and not avoid them altogether.
5) High-fiber foods. High-fiber foods are wonderful for your digestion and gut health, among many other benefits! But if you introduce fiber in larger amounts in a given meal and your body isn’t accustomed to that amount, you’ll likely get bloated and gassy. Take eating a protein bar that contains 14 grams of fiber, for example. Eating 14 grams of fiber in one sitting could be brutal if you usually don’t get that amount in a whole day. Work slowly toward a daily goal of around 25 grams of fiber to support gut health and digestion. And remember to drink plenty of fluids with fiber-rich foods or supplements to prevent constipation or discomfort. High-fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and legumes. Fiber can also be added to packaged foods, so check your nutrition facts labels.
6) Sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols are a type of carbohydrate found in many processed foods. They are found naturally in fruits and vegetables and are commonly used as a sugar substitute in “sugar-free” foods. However, sugar alcohols can also cause bloating and gas after WLS because they are not entirely absorbed by the body and can ferment in the gut. In packaged foods, sugar alcohols are listed in the ingredients section under the nutrition label or within the label under carbohydrates.
7) Spicy foods. Although spicy foods are generally not recommended following WLS, many people want what they want, and sometimes spicy foods are just what you’re craving! But the spice can cause the stomach to produce more gas, leading to bloating and discomfort. If spicy foods trigger your bloating, try avoiding them or eating them in smaller quantities. Sometimes even the simplest spices, like black pepper, can be triggering.
8) Fried foods. Fried foods are a no-brainer culprit for bloating, especially after WLS. These foods tend to be high in fat and calories, and your stomach simply cannot handle the contents of what you’re eating. A bite or two may not bother you, but more than that could send you to the bathroom, and you may spend your entire day there if you’re not careful. If you are able to tolerate these foods, consume them with caution, as these are not healthy choices that support your health or continued weight loss.
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Weight loss surgery can be a challenging experience in many ways, but learning how to prevent discomforts like bloating and gas by choosing the right foods can be invaluable. Remember to watch out for the common culprits that cause bloating after WLS, meet your daily fluid goals, eat slowly, and chew your food thoroughly. If a problem persists, keep a food journal so your bariatric dietitian can help you identify potential problem foods and help make the appropriate suggestions.
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.